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Demopolis School system sees growth again

DEMOPOLIS-In Demopolis, people know how valuable their school system is. This year, it seems others are taking notice too.

For several years the system has seem a steady amount of growth for many different reasons. However, this year, the system has seen its largest growth in recent years. An estimated 100 students have been added to the system this year, which is well above average for the system.

Demopolis City School Superintendent Dr. Wesley Hill said this year the growth has been more than the usual increase.

“We don’t normally grow that much in given year,” Hill said. “We have always grown just a little. I have been here for 25 years and we have grown from 1,700 to 2,300. A lot of that has to do with the addition of kindergartens.”

Hill said recently, the numbers have been up and down. He said last year the numbers were back on the increase, which carried into this year.

“At times we have seen a decline,” Hill said. “Then last year we saw it come back up. We have been able to maintain somewhere around 2,300 students for some time now.”

Gina Johnston, who has several titles with the Demopolis City School System, said the growth has come throughout the system. She said no particular school or grade has seen much more growth than any of the others.

“The growth was system-wide,” Johnston said. “It wasn’t in one particular grade or school. It was system-wide.”

Like every year, limited space is available. Hill said a waiting system has been put into place. Hill said this is common practice and is enforced when it is needed to be sure overcrowding does not become a problem.

“We always do a waiting list if we do not have space available,” Hill said. “We always have a waiting list depending on enrollment. Enrollment and withdrawals go on all the time because of students moving to and leaving town.”

The growth is a reflection of the positive example the school has set. Some of the increases have come from families who were looking for a town to relocate to for jobs and other reasons. The strong school system has been a catalyst to bring families to the Demopolis area rather than other counties. Johnston said this was a strong statement as to what the system has been able to accomplish.

“We feel this is a compliment to the system,” Johnston said. “We feel this is a very positive thing.”

Of course, with more students there is a need for more personnel. Hill said the state had allotted them a larger budget with more money to hire new teachers. Between additions to the system and people moving or retiring, Hill said they have seen more change in staff than usual.

“There has been more change personnel wise than we have seen in a while,” Hill said. “Some of that has to do with the state giving us a bigger budget and some of it has to do with the retirement program allowing more people to retire.”

Hill said an increasingly strong economy has also prompted many people to move around.